Letters of James Bridie (1888-1951)

Scope and Content

The material is composed of: a letter to 'Dear Ellis' about the Citizens' Theatre, Glasgow, 1944; letter to 'Larry' about his attitude to 'films' and the 'theatre' and not trusting friends, and also mentioning Madeleine; and letter to Mr. Samuel relating to Madeleine.

Administrative / Biographical History

The playwright Osborne Henry Mavor (James Bridie) was born in Glasgow on 13 January 1888. He was the son of engineering pioneer Henry Mavor (1858-1915) who became a leading maker of motors and dynamos. The younger Mavor was educated at Glasgow Academy and he studied at Glasgow University from which he graduated with a medical degree in 1913. During the First World War he served with the Royal Army Medical Corps in Flanders and in the area now known as Iraq. He served again during the Second World War. His first play was The sunlight sonata which was written under the pseudonym Mary Henderson, and produced in 1928. Succeeding works were written under the more well known pseudonym of James Bridie. In 1929 came The switchback and then What it is to be young. His first major success was The anatomist (1930) based on the lives of Dr. Robert Knox and Burke and Hare. Other work included Tobias and the angel (1930), Jonah and the whale (1932), A sleeping clergyman (1933), Susannah and the elders (1937), and Mr. Bolfry (1943). Scottish themes and symbolism featured in his post-war work which included The Forrigan reel (1944), Dr. Angelus (1947), John Knox (1947), Daphne Laureola (1949), and The Baikie Charivari (1952). Bridie founded the Glasgow Citizens' Theatre in 1943 and was awarded the C.B.E. in 1946. James Bridie (Osborne Henry Mavor) died in Edinburgh in 1951.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Keay, John and Keay, Julia (eds.). Collins encyclopaedia of Scotland. London: Harper Collins Publishers, 1994.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.


Check the local Indexes for details of any additions.

Related Material

The local Indexes show a reference to Bridie related material (check the Indexes for more details): mention in a letter of C. M. Grieve to F. G. Scott, Whalsay, 1939, at Gen. 887, f.9. In addition, the UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes several locations of Mavor (Bridie) related material.